Teachers' union official cleared of cyberstalking - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Teachers' union official cleared of cyberstalking

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By The Associated Press/WLNE

news@abc6.com 

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ A Rhode Island teachers' union official has been cleared of cyberstalking a former state lawmaker during the 2010 elections.

Superior Court Judge Susan McGuirl ruled John Leidecker's emails were protected political speech under the First Amendment.         

Leidecker is the deputy executive director at the National Education Association of Rhode Island. He was accused of cyberstalking former lawmaker Douglas Gablinske by sending him harassing emails during the primary race.         

McGuirl's ruling overturned a guilty verdict against Leidecker in District Court in 2011. McGuirl said a person running for office can expect some criticism and annoying comments. Leidecker said he was pleased with the ruling.         

Gablinske said in a statement to the paper that harassing actions are not protected under the Constitution.

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin released a statement after the judge's ruling:

“We recognize the decision by Judge McGuirl and understand the statutory limitations of the law under which Mr. Leidecker was charged.   I have long recognized the problems with the state’s cyberstalking statute, which is why I put forward legislation each year since I was elected Attorney General to create a new offense of online impersonation.   This past session, the General Assembly passed and the Governor signed legislation filed at my request that prohibits persons from using the name or persona of another or a public officials to create a webpage, post messages on a social networking site or send electronic communications without the person’s consent and with intent to harm or defraud.” 


(C) WLNE/AP 2014

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